“Superman: Man of Steel” goes the route of “Batman Begins”

Superman’s tale can be difficult to deliver for a couple of reasons: first, his Kryptonian tale has been done to death; second, it’s difficult to portray an invincible character audiences can relate to. Many place the Richard Donner Superman films as superior to anything Hollywood has produced since, but Zack Snyder’s version of Superman may yet have hope of matching the status of the originals. Set to star Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, and Henry Cavill as Jonahan, Marth, and Clark Kent (respectively), Snyder’s version is star-studded. But the real reason it may succeed where others have failed is that Snyder has one of the greatest minds in the business backing him–Christopher Nolan.

Hero Complex and Collider recently interviewed Snyder, and what he had to say may put hardcore fans at ease–he’s going to approach the material the same way Nolan approached Batman, rather than like Superman Returns director Bryan Singer.

Many critiques of Singer’s version lamented the time spent watching Clark Kent deal with internal struggles instead of watching the Man of Steel in action. Of his Superman story, Snyder told Hero Complex:

“Our Superman, he’s got things to figure out, but he’s a physical cat.”

And when Collider asked about Singer’s version in comparison to what he’s trying to do with his film:

“Look I don’t want to judge [Superman Returns] but I like to see Superman kicking some ass.”

Whereas Singer’s version tried to play homage to the original films, Snyder is going to pretend like they never happened. Nolan did wonders for the superhero-genre with his Batman films, in part because he wasn’t afraid to treat them as independent of the films that preceded them. Snyder appears to be taking a page out of the book of Nolan:

“If you look at  ‘Batman Begins,’ there’s that structure: there’s the canon that we know about and respect, but on other hand there’s this approach that pre-supposes that there haven’t been any other movies.  In every aspect of design and of story, the whole thing is very much from that perspective of ‘Respect the canon but don’t be a slave to the movies.'”

Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas will be producing Superman: Man of Steel, but Nolan is completely willing to let Snyder take full reign of the directors role. Snyder commented on his relationship with Nolan, saying:

“Chris is awesome. He’s super-respectful but super-helpful, too. You can’t imagine a more generous [collaborator] … once he sort of got what I want to do with it, he was like, ‘OK,’ and once he said, ‘You know what, that’s awesome,’ now he’s 100%. If I say, ‘What do you think of this?’ he’s like, ‘That’s awesome,’ and then there’s a great give-and-take about it, a great conversation that we can have about it and making it better every day.  And by the way, he’s hilarious too.”

While promoting his film Sucker Punch, Snyder talked to io9 about the role of Costner and Lane:

“My idea was that Superman’s parents should be vibrant, like real people, not like some doddering ancient cliché… I think the thing you realize when you look at Diane and Kevin, in our decision to cast them so far, you sort of get a sense of how tonally we’re looking at the movie, and what you realize is that those guys are serious actors, and we’re taking this shit fucking seriously in terms of the tone of having those guys. You’re talking about having a situation where whatever the action is or whatever the drama of the movie is, our first priority is to make sure it’s rendered in the most realistic way we can get at.”

He also talked to ScreenRant about how he is going to try to bring a certain “realism” to Superman:

“I think the visual style of “Superman,” though I can’t say for certain as it’s early, but I kind of feel like — and I did say to the studio – that what’s cool for me and interesting, and odd, is that “Superman” is probably going to be the most realistic movie I’ve ever made. It’s kind of fun that the most realistic movie I probably will make is a movie called “Superman.” Which shows how crazy my other movies are. Because I guess for him to be credible… He gets more credible by the reality that you can bring to him, you know emotionally, and visually, I think.”

My initial concern with Snyder at the helm is that he will fall back into his traditional style of filmmaking, favoring style over substance–but Nolan’s backing assuages these fears a bit. How do you feel about Snyder’s approach to Superman? Do you feel he’s the right filmmaker for the job? And does Nolan’s involvement put your mind at ease? Leave us your thoughts below.

— Aaron Faulkner

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